Last week I celebrated my 10th anniversary as a blogger. Around the same time, Engadget shared a Ten Years in Social Media By the Numbers infographic. While the infographic is a fascinating look at the breakdown of social media, it doesn’t speak much to blogging, and I believe social media includes blogging; the rest is really social networking, and is slightly different.
It’s been a long and fascinating decade in blogging.
I wrote about what blogging was like in 2004 on my site.
In those early days of blogging, there was absolutely no way to promote your blog. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blog hops, no Google+, no SEO, nothing. Zip. Nada. There were no feed readers either. We all read each other’s blogs and then we put our favorite blogs in a blogroll on our sidebar. It wasn’t a tool for anything other than self-expression. Almost everyone I knew in the early days, even the professional writers, kept their blogs separate from their professional lives. It was a private joy.
I’m not the only blogger out there ruminating about the early days. Catherine Connors at Her Bad Mother blogged again for the first time in months, talking about the history of blogging and how we’ve all changed the definition of motherhood with our blogs:
Even though it was early days — the earliest days for this thing that now fuels an entire industry, that drives millions of dollars in business — we knew that what we were doing was important. We knew that we were on the cusp of something. I left an academic career to be on the cusp of this… thing. This movement. This revolution. Which is what it was.
Heather Armstrong’s website Dooce is the oldest among us, now a teenager at 13 years old. She wrote a bit about this too, about how the community has changed, and honoring the parenting side of, well, mom blogging:
Last month my website turned 13 years old, and at some point I’m sure it would be worthwhile to put together a post similar to this excellent one by Grace Bonney given that I’ve been doing this long before ads for blogs ever existed, long before a blog could be a business, long before hordes of people started blogging specifically to make money. But when I sat down to commemorate the birthday of this space with a post like that I chose instead to write about Leta’s piano performance. It made more sense because parenting my 10-year-old was making me happier than the ins-and-outs of the business of blogging.
But the definitive post about the history and current state of blogging comes from the afore mentioned Grace Bonney of the site Design Sponge. She zooms in on many of the hard facts of blogging in 2014, and how the community itself has changed from one of creation to one of curation:
Without noticing it, a lot of us were experiencing the huge tidal shift in the way readers were engaging with blogs. After years of having the luxury of running websites that were the sole place to comment, participate and engage on a certain topic, we were no longer the only outlet. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest offered new options for people. They not only offered new options, they offered completely customized options that made it easy to pick and choose the content they liked and take it into their own (online) backyards to comment and curate as they saw fit. Instead of coming to hang out at our houses, they were dropping by quickly, taking a few key pieces with them and leaving to comment and discuss those things in their own living rooms.
I realize that newer bloggers might view these musings by us old school bloggers with a fairly jaundiced eye; after all, we are all deeply privileged, and we’ve all built up names for ourselves and many of us have been able to transform our little blogging hobbies into careers. Bemoaning the current state of blogging is unbecoming. But with so many of us hitting milestones it’s hard not to look back.
But when I look forward, I have to say I believe there is still a lot of magic and community to be found in the blogosphere, and in the old school blog. There is so much more here than Ellen Degeneres’ 3 million retweets or Katy Perry’s 50 million Twitter followers or even Facebook’s domination of the space. As much as things have changed, and as much as curation is the focus of today’s internet, I still believe the beating heart of the social web is the humble blog or website that offers up, day after day, beautiful and original content.
At least I sure hope so. Here’s to the next decade, bloggers. Let’s see what we can do next.